Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Records Rights In California Community Colleges

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

Do you or a family member attend one of the many California community colleges?  Have you ever wondered what data the college is gathering on you? Or, have you had "issues" and want to see what is in your records?  Or,maybe you just wish to see what your records state prior to applying to transfer? You are in luck, as thanks to our legislature, obtaining your records from California community colleges is fast, relatively speaking.

Federal law (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, aka FERPA) provides students the right to review their records within 45 days of a request.  This applies to many colleges, but in California, state law extends students' records rights beyond federal law.  California Education Code §76230 provides students the right to inspect and review their records within 15 working days of a request. This is roughly a 24-27 day difference (or more depending on the college's "working days") and means records review 3-4 weeks faster!  Copies of records may also be requested, but a college may charge per page copying fees.

In my work, 15 working days seems like forever, but a 45 day wait is an eternity, particularly when a student is about to be terminated from a program or has teacher issues.  Heck, some classes could be completed fully in 45 days (in various programs and/or if accelerated), so this law is very helpful.

Here is the exact language of the section:

76230.  Any currently enrolled or former student has a right to access to any and all student records relating to him maintained by community colleges. The editing or withholding of any such records,except as provided for in this chapter, is prohibited.
   Each community college district shall adopt procedures for the granting of requests by students to inspect and review records during regular school hours, provided that access shall be granted no later than 15 working days following the date of the request. Procedures shall include notification of the location of all official student records if not centrally located and the providing of qualified personnel to interpret records where appropriate.

So, if and when you need your records, use the above section to ensure your community college provides records timely.  Not all staff members of every community college are familiar with every law, so it never hurts to remind them of the legal time limit; politely, of course.


Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney
717 K Street, Suite 228
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-444-9064
Fax: 916-444-1209
Email: help@edlaw4students.com
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Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.

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